tv National Park Service 100th Anniversary CSPAN November 25, 2016 7:00pm-9:00pm EST
ininterpretertive ranger in 1976, our bisenn ten yal year. >> right here. i was at the information center and that winter, i worked at the jefferson. >> last question for you. do you have a favorite national park site? >> with 2, i love all my children. >> thank you very much. >> thank you very much. you're look at a live picture of arlington house, the robert e. lee memorial in arlington national cemetery. this is the national park's service most visited home and it was on this day in 1916 that president wilson signed the legislation that created the
parks service. we're here to talk about the service at its history and also learn more about the special house and people who lived here and how it's being preserved by the national parks service. we're joined by robert stanton. biez, the former site manager here at arlington house. obviously a park service employee. he's also oversees a year long renovation of the estate. let me start with the story of how the national park service began. >> as the national park service was authorized by an act of congress, signed into law by president woodrow wilson, august 25, 1916. there we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the national park service today. and that legislation came about through the stellar efforts of
many conservationists and civil leaders throughout the country. >> was it at all controversial at the time it was signed into law? >> it was in the sense there was sort of a misunderstanding in terms of some of the constraints that may be imposed by having one federal agency to ad minister our national parks. but i think that the american people had developed an understanding and appreciation of the parks. there were 35 parks that had already been established before there was a national park service. so it was an educational process. and at the time of 1916, the american public had a pretty good understanding of what the parks were about and what their responsibility would be as well. >> who was the earliest president to preserve national lands? >> well my recollections are that president lincoln signed legislation in 19 -- par don me, 1864, passed by congress designating yosemite valley and many of the large groves as a
preserve to be maintained by the state of california, although it was federal ownership. it was transferred to the state of california. then after a period of time the area returned to the jurisdiction of the federal government. and today we know it as yosemite national park. >> well, brenden, this particular house is an interesting one because it merges the history of our first president, george washington and robert e. lee who was the leader of the confederate army. surprised to know that these two actually had a relationship through marriage and i'd like you to tell that story and how that all happened. >> sure, absolutely. arlington house was built begin in 1802 by a gentleman named george washington parke custis. he was the grandson of martha
washington. he was essentially raised by george and martha as his parents. his father died when he was very young. he was raised at mount vernon and saw george washington and martha washington as basically his parents. he built the home begin in 1882 as a memorial and home but a memorial to our nation's first president. he had one daughter who survived to adulthood, mary, and that daughter mary married a young u.s. army officer, robert e. lee, and that is how robert e. lee comes into this picture. again, this is arlington house, the robert e. lee memorial. it has his name but there is so much more than went on here than just robert e. lee. >> i always referred to this as the custis lee mansion. >> i was known as that for quite some time. it was established as a memorial, a historic home in
1925 by congress, then became part of the national parks service in the early 1930s. but it was an act of congress in 1955 that actually established this firmly as the robert e. lee memorial as arlington house. the reason it became a memorial to lee was not because of his duties and what he did during the civil war, but for what he did after the war. >> he had a pretty spectacular view. but washington, d.c. was really in 1802. >> it was a big swamp. it wasn't a wonderful place to look at. but george washington parke custis thought it was important to overlook this federal city, knew there were great things to come. and it is an incredible view and that view changed quite a bit
other the 55 years that george washington custis lived in this house. >> to give people a sense of place, so many people watching have been to arlington memorial. and this is the house on the hill above john f. kennedy's grave is that right? >> as you stand in the front, you can see the grave from that location. it is a prominent location and interestingly enough is that the estate, i think, included -- was it 11,000. >> 1100. >> 1100 acres which is now under the park jurisdiction 19 acres. so the arlington cemetery is situated on lands that were originally owned by the custis-lee family. >> but that isn't accidental that this is arlington national cemetery. i'm going to have you tell the story about this property, which was owned by robert e. lee at that point, then became a gave
site first for soldiers from the civil war. >> right. so during the war the property -- it's a fascinating story because when it became a cemetery, it was deemed to be owned by the federal government. of course the lees owned the property. it was actually in his wife's name, in mary's name. and of course the lees had to flee here at the beginning of -- first robert went and then the rest of the family left in may of 1861. as the war went on, quarter master general montgomery meigs had a real issue on hand, which is what to do with the thousands of union soldiers who were dying in the hospitals here. and up here on this hillside, arlington house had actually by then been confiscated. in the early part of the war an obscure law was passed that required certain people to pay their taxes in person. and there was really no way for mary lee, wife of the now famous confederate general to come here
and pay the property taxes. the property was confiscated by the federal government, it was government property at that time. and then 1964 montgomery meigs decided this would be the place to bury the soldiers. >> when people think about the national park service, they think about those grand vistas and these beautiful parks around the country. but really there's a lot more inventory that are historic places like that. can you talk about how the merger happened between big outdoor spaces and historic places? >> the first areas administered by the parks service were primarily in the west and they were created through the federal do main through legislation and subsequently by the president, particularly president teddy roosevelt. and that situation continued up through 1933 when then our second director was able to convince the secretary of the interior and president franklin
delano roosevelt to transfer it to the jurisdiction of the park service. president roosevelt bought into that and did in fact approve with the blessings of congress as it were with, the reorganization of the executive branch. through that act roughly 60 areas were immediately transferred to the jurisdiction of the parks service, including the civil war sites, revolutionary war sites, war of 1812, statue of liberty and the parks and the nation's capital plus the lee estate was transferred in 1933. >> this is the time of the civilian conservation corps. did people in society go to work to establish the parks and build them in. >> i'm not particularly sure. my colleague might be able to respond to that. but if you were to visit william park in virginia or go to the
home of camp david or to great smokeys or yellowstone, you can see the extra work performed in the late '30s and early '40s. >> after the reorganization, what would be the most critical park in the park service's history from that point and forward? >> oh boy. i mean we went through some pretty significant changes. 1960, the 50th anniversary of the national park service, what we call the mission 66 time period, there was an awful lot of infrastructure improvements that went on, new visitor centers that were built. an influx of money that went into the parks service. the mission 66 time period had a really significant impact. >> i would fully concur with that.
interestingly enough, mission 66 was authorized by congress in terms of funding, but it was the initiative of the secretary of the interior at that time and president eisenhower to celebrate the 50th anniversary through a major rehabilitation of all of the park areas. and it was known as my colleagues, from 1956 to 1966, known again commonly as mission 66 program. one of the things we must recall, subsequently to 1933 to the jurisdiction of park service, we shortly entered the world war ii, followed by the korean war. so many of the nation's resources with directed towards the war efforts and consequently many of the parks did not have the kind of resources for the quality of care. so this was a major effort right after the korean war to
rehabilitate the parks to the standards that all of us were seeking. >> let's bring us up to today. now the parks service has 413 sites. >> as of yesterday, yes. >> as of this week. yeah, a new one added. and the funds are always tight. how is this centennial year being used by the national parks service to help advance its mission? >> well there's a number of ways. one way that we're really trying to advance our mission is by increasing not just the numbers of people who go to national parks but the diversity of people who come to national park. and you know, we are really trying to reach a younger more
diverse generation. we've seen leading up to the centennial the grain of our visitors, if you will. and so really trying through new technology, through reaching out to different groups trying to get a more representative population of americans into these national parks. that's really been one of the big thrusts of the centennial. >> no question about that. it's critically important to really discharge the full responsibility of the park service, which is to touch or to connect with all america. and there unfortunately are some communities that are not truly connected with the richness and diversity of which is really our collective heritage. so through a number of efforts that is continuing -- i might add that congress, this administration and prior administration have given the park service some tools to achieve some of those objectives. one is through the employment of young people, given them hands-on experience through the youth conservation corps authorized in 1970 as a part of the celebration of our 75th anniversary congress enacted a bill signed into law that authorized the park service to transport through its own -- or donated resources. young people from neighboring communities into parks for
education and recreational. so again trying to make the connections and those self generated relationship with the mark. >> on this centennial of the national park service, american history tv is coming to you live from arlington house, the robert e. lee memorial. high on a hill overlooking washington, d.c., one of the national parks services most visited historic sites. coming up next, a ranger is going to give you a little bit of a tour of this place. we'll be back life in about ten minutes. >> so here we are in the main hallway at arlington house. the center hall was designed to impress. remembering that george washington parke custis wanted this house for a memorial to george washington. he had the house designed to be like a gallery. to be monumental, to impress what he thought would be some of the most important people in the country who would visit. and then over the years presidents, congressmen and senators would visit him here at arlington house to learn more about george washington.
the regional architect of the mansion is a man named george hadfield whom george washington personally invited to america from england to do design work on the nation's capitol, the capitol building. and so george hadfield was one of the most prominent architects of his day. this house has a great history of architecture in the history of the country as well. it's not just the people that lived here and the events that took place here, but the structure itself had great meaning. sometimes an historic house or a structure takes on a meaning because of the events that happen there or the people who live there. but this house was built to be consequential. so it has that history to it as well. and robert e. lee married into that.
in this parlor, june 30th, 1831, under the archway where you can see the uniform and the dress on display, 24-year-old lieutenant robert e. lee of the u.s. army married 22-year-old mary randolph custis, the only surviving child of the family, as well as a great granddaughter of martha washington. but this wasn't the only wedding that took place here. in fact it wasn't even the first wedding. the first wedding took place here ten years earlier when a woman named mariah carter married charles syphax. what made that wedding important is that mariah and charles were both enslaved her and mariah was believed to have been the daughter of the master. and so he was an enslaved woman from some type of relationship that existed in which george washington parke custis fathered a child by one of the enslaved
women here, a woman named arianna carter. and this is forcing us in many way to reexamine how we interpret the history of arlington. here we have the story of slavery. and this place represents the founding ideals of this country. this home built to honor george washington and to celebrate the values and beliefs of the father of the country, the house itself built by slaves. but then you have the family as well, the family relationship. and george washington parke custis in essence had two daughters. one was white, his heiress, she married robert e. lee. one was enslaved. both great granddaughters of martha washington. so in that regard george washington mark custis as a representative of the first first family of the country who spent 55 years of his life celebrating that was in essence
representative of another aspect of the history of this country. and the simple truth is the first family in this country was biracial. so we recently reenacted that wedding with descend dents of the syphax family in attendance. there was also another wedding that took place here and that was the wedding of selena norris and thorton gray, also enslaved. so that was arranged and this wedding took place in this parlor. and selena gray and her family would live in one of the two historic slave quarters that we maintain, that still exist and that are going to be restored as a part of this big project as well. now you can see this room is somewhat empty of furnishings and that's representative of the fact that right now we are in the process of removing furnishings with artifacts from display so by the end of the year we'll begin the restoration project.
but all of the furnishings have to be removed before we can do that work. you can see the boxes in place and preparation being made. as we walk down the hallway, you also see empty places on the walls. there are numerous -- historically there were numerous portraits hang in this hallway, family portraits, historic ones of the washingtons and other members of the family. however, some of those have been removed. but at the same time, there are holes in our collection. and our new restoration project, through this generous donation by david rubenstein will allow us to acquire more original
artifacts and reproductions of original artifacts including paintings so that we can represent the true appearance of this house as it was when the lees and custises lived here. but there will be examples that we will leave like this, this bare patch of plaster on the wall. this plaster, it's not just something we chose to leave exposed for no good reason. what we discovered about seven years ago, a restoration project where we stripped down paint down to the plaster and we repainted different rooms, we found writing, graffiti. and some of this writing, it's very hard to see, very faint on the walls. but this we think even predates the civil war. some of the graffiti we have in the house is civil war related, left by union soldiers.
some of this predates the civil war and goes back to the earliest construction of the house. and so it's something that we're leaving exposed because it is representative of that history. and we wanted to be able to preserve it and perhaps in the future find a way of even interpreting it. we're not exactly sure what the writing says. so it is a mystery that is going to be left to us to solve in the future. we at arlington house are very excited that our recent donation and our ability to restore the mansion and create new exhibits is not only possible but that it coincides with the centennial of the national park service. it gives us an opportunity to examine and reexamine what this place meant owe the last several decades, since the national park service first took it over in 1933, and what it means moving into the future. because as a country, we always
need to examine and reexamine our history in order to decide where we want to go forward. and arlington house is an amazing place to be able to do that. so we can examine the meaning of the civil war. we can examine the meaning of the life of robert e. lee, his family, the impact his decision made on history, the lives of the enslaved people here, the consequences of that war, surrounding this mansion arlington cemetery was created a means to honor the dead but again as a means of gang revenge or justice perhaps, if you want to call that, against robert e.
lee. but how do we as a country view the events of that war and its aftereffects. the period of reconstruction. well, arlington house is determined, and the national parks service is determined to seize the opportunity to move forward and perhaps lead the nation here in an effort to come to terms with that period in time and to make more of it. to make something of it that can help us move as a nation and as a culture into the future. the theme here is division and reunion. well, division perhaps is easier to define. but reunion, what does that really mean? we know the country was reunited north and south, but culturally and racially and many ways this country remains divided. and so what can be learned here at arlington house, the robert
e. lee memorial, that will help americans and people from other parts of the world, too, to examine that, examine their own beliefs, and see what they can make of it moving into the future. >> arlington house, one of the national parks service properties on this centennial of the park service, we are talking about tonight live from this most visited site here overlooking washington, d.c. our two guests for the live program tonight. and the full tour of arlington house, if you've never been fortunate to get here will follow the live program tonight. we're going to talk about that last thought about learning and interpreting what you see in a second.
but i want to give some statistics to our audience. this is from "the wall street journal," part of what we're learning about our park service on its anniversary. estimated market value of nps, the lands and properties $62 billion. and there's 84.6 million total acres, $2.85 billion is the congressional appropriation for this year, total revenues the parks take in from sites $591 million, there are 22,000 employees and 221,000 volunteers. and you're both nodding about those volunteers and how important they are to the work of the parks service. and as we said earlier, the parks service is responsible for 413 sites as of this week. the president announced a new one in the inventory. so bob stanton, over the course of our lifetimes, the last part of the last century, americans became more aware of the need to not sanitize our history, to tell the complete and complex
story. and that job fell largely on the parks service to do that at our historic sites. how did that evolution of telling the story happen inside the parks service? >> it happened inside in terms of employees understanding that they need to be more factual with respect to telling the full dimension of the american experience, drawing upon scholarship from, as an example, college universities, independent scholars, using the best of scholarship to reveal the full story of the events of the individual involved with that national park. but i must tell you also that the american people felt that it was time to really reflect upon all of the circumstances that brought us into the 21st century in terms of the liberties and the freedoms we enjoy today. and as a result, through the efforts of the american public, congress enacted bills signed into law by presidents given the
park service responsibility to commemorate areas that reflected some of the difficult of the controversial period in our history. so it has been really is response to the american people, a wanting to know what is the american experience in its totality. >> so that's twofold, acquiring new properties that help tell the story differently but also rethinking about the properties that we already have. so what's an experience that you've had where you've had to rethink and reinterpret for the public a site that you worked on? >> well, here at arlington house is a fascinating example. we're very fortunate because of a donation by david rubenstein that we have a chance to look at the interpretation and how we tell the story. many generations who have visited here, especially early
on, they learned about certain occupants and certain people who lived here. they learned about robert e. lee, george washington parke custis, their wives and children. this is a place where 80 people lived. and the majority of them, at least 63 on this plantation were enslaved african-americans. and we have to do a better job telling that story, that inclusive story about what it was like for those people, what their experiences were like and how the groups lived and worked together. you can't just tell one story. you can't just tell the lee and the custis story inside the house and tell the slave story and the black story out back. they were all both places. it's really important for us that we tell that story all as one story of everyone together impacting everyone. >> one thing people may not know
is how much scholarship really goes into the work of the staff and the volunteers who work at these sites. can you talk a little bit about the training that people go through before they meet the public in places like this in. >> sure, absolutely. you're absolutely right. as much as some people like to, don't want to go on the first day on the job and talking to the public. it's good of to have some experience, shadow park rangers. we have an extensive library, hundreds of books here on every subject imaginable. but we have a dozen or so must reads that most of our staff and volunteers look at so they can with well-versed of the occupant and the history that went on. we have folks who are doing the research for us. sometimes it's staff. but we have great relationships with certain universities around here, howard university, where we have ph.d. candidates and folks coming in spending a great deal of time and effort helping us perform the ground breaking
research. we've worked with the park service a lot over our 37 years and you often meet rangers with masters degrees and ph.d.s who are spending their life helping americans learn their history. >> they're doing a fantastic job. and they recognize they need to stay abreast with new scholarship, as it were. and there have been many more use of primary materials that are revealing, some unknown or some untold stories. and historians and interpreters and preservationists stand fully abreast of those changes. i might just add -- this is a philosophical view. there have been many areas added to the national park system within the past three, four decades that really commemorate some very difficult periods in
our history. but i liken that unto the maturing of a people and a nation in that we can recognize and hopefully learn from some of the grievous mistakes that we've made. and we're not ashamed to tell the story, that we made some mistakes. brown versus board of education, little rock central high school, tuskegee airmen that we fought as a segregated military. we tell those stories in hope that we would gain from the -- and i would just conclude, we were very fortunate in the park service to have the volunteer leadership and contribution of one of america's most historians, the late dr. john hope franklin. and he observed that those places that commemorate difficult chapters in our history is not places that we could allow ourselves to be wall low in remorse but rather be moved to a higher resolve to become better citizens. that's the bottom line. >> one specific question about this place again, over the past couple of years we seem to be in another period where we're
examining as a nation as we feel about the people who fought in the civil war on the confederate side. there he's been the big debate in south carolina about the flying of the confederate flag. memorials are coming down, statues are coming down. but here we have a place recognizing robert e. lee. help me understand how you're in the midst of something that could be quite controversial and helping people learn. >> i first do want to clarify. we get that question a lot. why is there a memorial to robert e. lee. he lost. he was a traitor. and again the reason is because of what he did after the civil war in reconciliation, reunification, ending the war, telling former confederates to embrace the union again and make the country great again basically. he really felt strongly about that. in terms of telling that story, we hope this can be a place for dialogue with a lot of new exhibits and interpretive
opportunities here we want people to ask those questions. we want to hear what people think about these symbols and what they mean to them because they mean different things to different people. and we hope that -- here in the parks service we want to provide the context and create the dialogue for people to really be able to continue that conversation. it's a constant conversation. right now today it's the confederate flag. it could another thing in another five or ten years. >> i might add that in 1966 congress passed a bill signed into law by president johnson authorizing the national historic preservation act. the first time to have a comprehensive national program to address the caring for or collective heritage resources, but also in caring for them is to tell the full dimension of the american experience. and by the way, we're celebrating the 50th anniversary
of the national historic preservation act. it's a great opportunity for the american people to sort of reexamine where we've come in 50 years and where we'll be going in terms of the preservation and the interpretation and the understanding of our collective heritage. >> we often hear this is a uniquely american idea to preserve these spaces. is that really true? when you travel to other countries, which i know you've done extensively. >> it's attributed to an outstanding writer and philosopher. wallace stagner said the national park is the best idea one can debate. but what set the parks aside are different from other countries in that these were public parks open to all who could come. where parks maybe had been established for a select audience. but these were the people's
park. and that was the whole intent when congress first set aside yellow stone as our first national park. and subsequently yosemite came back to the federal jurisdiction. >> speaking of dialogues, we're hoping to have one with you in our program. we're going to open up the phone lines. eastern and central time zone viewers with 202-748. 8900, mountain and pacific time zone viewers, 202-748-88901. dial that carefully so you get to us and not someone else. tweet us at c-span history or you can go to our facebook page, facebook.com/c-spanhistory. the dialogue is about the national parks service on its centennial, any questions you might have about it, if you want to tell us about your favorite park that you visited and why it's important to preserve it. and if you have specific questions about arlington house, we're here to answer those as well. we're about to hear about charles syphax just briefly as we go into this bit of tape. who is he again?
>> he was one of the enslaved african-americans here and was kind of one of the head housekeepers or butlers, if you will, keeping the house. and he's very significant long other things for who he married in that story here at arlington house. >> we're going to hear from stephen hammond who is very much involved in telling the story of his family members and also the others who worked here to put this whole place together, some 60-plus people for the lee family and we're going to learn more about how that history is being preserved next. >> my name is steve hammond. i'm a retired department of interior employer. i worked for the u.s. geological survey for about 40 years. the geological survey is a sister agency to the national parks service. in my work there i actually was
the deputy associate director for natural hazards, dealt with earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, a variety of national disasters. my connection with the syphax family is an interesting one. my grandmother's brother was charles syphax who was a slave here. and we go way back in terms of their connection to mount vernon and the local area here. charles was a dower slave at martha washington's estate at mount vernon. we believe he was born about 1791. he basically became kind of a support footman for george washington parke custis. he was living on the estate with his grandparents and he inherited arlington estate once martha died in 1802. about 1802 we believe that he actually had relations with a slave, airy carter, another
dower slave at mount vernon, and together they had a daughter name mariah carter who ultimately married charles syphax here at the arlington estate in 1821. it's interesting that they both grew up here. charles, i think, as a young man had an affinity to watch mariah grow up who probably worked here at the house once she became of age. interesting enough george washington parke custis allowed the couple to marry here at the house in the parlor which is unheard of in regard to a slave family that is actually owned. not too many times has that happened. they were married in 1821. shortly after that they began to have children.
first child born in 1823, a second one in 1825. and shortly after the second child was born, william syphax w. george washington parke custis decided to sell mariah. the folklore in our family suggested that he simply freed mariah an her children and gave her 17 acres of property. but in the last several months we've found documents in the alexandria circuit courthouse that select that george washington parke custis sold mariah and her two children to a quaker. quakers were really abolitionists in terms of war and slavery. it was their goal to free the slaves in the area. from the deed that we have here,
in 1845 from william stapler, we know that they actually freed mariah and all of her children. but this deed dates back to a previous deed that her -- his father, edward state her who was the apothecary shop owner in alexandria and george washington parke custis struck? 1825 to actually free them. it's interesting because in the laws of the state at that time were such that if you were freed and you couldn't support yourself, you needed to leave the state in terms of being a freed slave. but george washington parke custis wanted mariah to be close by. so if you follow my story here, her husband, charles syphax was not freed. he continued to be a slave but mariah and her children were freed but were given 17 acres of property at the south end of arlington estate where they
lived free for the rest of their lives. and as a result of having following children, all of them were born free as well. there are a couple of children that are very prominent in the family. one these children were freed, they had an opportunity for education. one of the prominent older children, second child, first son of the syphax is william. we know he was probably educated in alexandria arlington area as well as georgetown. he ultimately went to work for the department of the interior in the 1850s. he worked for a number of secretaries of the interior. and actually became a head messenger for the department of the interior. and went on to become the first president of the colored trustees of the colored schools in washington, d.c. there are a number of ancestors and descendents of these folks, the syphaxes that have made a prominent impact on our country.
one example is this tuskegee airmen. we had a number of women that went on to teach here and around the country. we have 30 that we know that attended howard university. several of which turned around and became teachers at howard university. we have a well-known surgeon, mickey syphax who died a couple of years ago near the age of 1007 who was a prominent surgeon, professor teacher at howard university. and we have julian dixon who was a congressman from california who passed away in 2000 but served in the u.s. congress for close to just over a decade. they have a long legacy here at arlington estate. in the 1860s when the civil war began, the lees left the property. robert e. lee left, departed,
became general in the virginia army. and his wife also left fearing that there would be problems with the federal government. arlington estate was taken over by the u.s. army. i was considered a strong hold, a way to protect washington, d.c. and so it was overrun by a number of u.s. army soldiers. the lees when they left this property asked the slaves to tend it, believing that they would return here after the war. had no idea how long the war would last but they felt that they would return. as a result of that, several years later, the u.s. government modified the tax codes stating that owners of property needed to pay their taxes in person. well, mrs. lee could not pay her taxes in person. and as a result, the property
was taken by the u.s. government as a result of taxes not being paid. in addition to that property being taken, the syphax property at the southern end of the estate was taken but there was no proof that they owned that property. so years later, about 1866 the syphax's oldest son had the opportunity to work with congress to make a plea to have the property returned. by the late -- mid 1866 the bill was taken up by the congress and to this day we know that a bill was approved and signed by the president andrew johnson, i believe, in june of 1866, which returned 17 acre to mariah syphax to live there in perpetuity. so that's a big deal to the family knowing they had this compound but they couldn't prove
that they owned it. but now we had congress to prove that this was their property. i've been doing family history for close to 40 years. it's really something that's a passion of mine. it's been something that my ancestors passed down to me in terms of understanding a little more about our history. and it's been really important to me and my cousins to basically pull together with the parks service, with the research staff at mount vernon, with the leadership of the white house historical association as well as with the new african-american history museum in washington, d.c. being opened by the smithsonian just a month or two to work together to try to help tell a more clear, fully laid out story about the african-americans, and particularly the syphax family here at arlington. i believe that while the story
of robert e. lee and george washington parke custis is important, there are so much richer story in terms of the enslaved people that lived here. our goal is to really try to help inform the public about what actually occurred there. so that's a really big deal for the family in terms of knowing that they had this compound but they couldn't prove that they owned it. but now we had congress here to prove that this was their property. i've been doing family history for close to 40 years. it's really something that's been a passion of mine. >> on this 100th anniversary of the national parks service, we are live from arlington house overlooki overlooking washington, d.c. talking about the parks system and how it interacts with the american public. our guest, bob tan tstan ton an
brandened miz, who has spent his career in the national parks service and is charged with reinterpreting this house, a big project over the next year. what an interesting story about the family. and in it, we heard about how much family member ts and the community were part of retelling the story. how much does that happen where descendants are really wanting to be part of retelling stories? >> it is a critical part of the story that's told. a number of sites throughout the country. as well as sites that represent major events, for instance, take the tuskegee airmen site in tuskegee, alabama. minute the men who fought in the military at tuskegee airmen have been interviewed and visited with the public there at the historic site. at many of the sites in which with we have the commemoration
of american indians, the tribe, participated the preservation and interpretation and education and youth outreach program as those sites. it is something we did not do, still say we. haven't spent 35 year with the parks service. we did not do not a large scale many, many years ago, but it's become an increasing important feature of how we're preserving and interpreting these stories and these rich areas. >> we're going to start talking telephone call, but we asked how can the national parks service better serve and engage the public and here's a comment for example. the national parks service says well michael already does a great job encaging americans in both kinds of parks. if americans better supported their nps by lobbying their
representatives and getting the agency funding, those might be better maintained, sustained and be even better places to visit. that's probably music to your ear, what is the relationship like with congress and in a time of tight budgets, does the parks service get its due? >> is there someone i can defer the question to other than -- >> you're retired. >> right, yeah. trz the question of budget. is always a point of discussion. and one has to recognize that the national parks service is a bureau within the department of interior, within the executive branch and each department, each bureau, have to compete for discretionary federal funding, so, it's incouple u bent upon the leadership of the parks service with the support of the secretary and the president's office to make the best case for its need. would bit the rehabilitation of
the bridge, which has been in the nuews recently. the preservation of the fragile ecosystem in everglade magnificent structures at mesa verde in colorado. all these parks have needs. the federal budget can be spread so far. it's incumbent upon the park service, secretary of the interior to make the best case for an increased budget. >> here is the flip side of that from sandra lamott who wrote, the park's management must recognize parks are for everybody, not just upper income and make access easier and less expensive. as congressional support has declined, fees have climbed to a point where one-third of the americans cannot afford the lodgings or the campgrounds. a $20 or $25 entry fee is keeping people out of the parks. >> economic circumstances certainly has to be weighed in terms of trying to achieve full accessibility for all americans,
all america. recognizing that congress, too, has attempted to give the park service new authorities. for instance, all recreational entrance fees that are paid by the visiting public now are retained -- 100% are retained by the national park service to be used for resource preservation, enhancement of educational and recreational programs. so there's a direct benefit of the fees that the public pays. but also there's a recognition that some individual may not ever have the resources to travel from washington, d.c., to grand teton. new areas have been added to the national park system in close proximity to urban centers. take, for an example, gateway national recreation area in new york. santa monica recreation area in
los angeles. in many cases those parks are within walking distance of a large, significant population. as a result of the american people saying we need to have parks to meet our outdoor educational, recreational needs, and congress again representing the american people have responded by adding those areas to the park system. >> it costs money to visit arlington house? >> it does not. there's no cost to visit here. in fact, within the district of columbia, which we are just outside, no national parks charge fees for entry. i would say that i believe the majority of national parks, as in over half of them do not charge fees. >> that's correct. >> so there should be a number of parks close to, hopefully many, many people that they can visit with no fees. those parks that do collect fees, the fees do pay a critical role to the infrastructure in that 80% of the fees stay within the park to go right back to things that can help the
visitors. new facilities, new trails, new exhibits. >> the other 20% is applied or made available to the parks that do not have the benefit of fees. >> we are wrapping up our first of two hours talking about the national park service on its centennial. it's time to mix in your phone calls. first one is from calvin in decatur, georgia. welcome to our conversation. >> caller: thank you. thanks for taking my call. this morning i was told by the -- i think it was the april 16 celebration of the 100-year of the national park service and i learned a heck of a lot about the national park service. but also my basic question is, is there an effort to capture volunteers for the national park service?
i would very much like to be engaged in such as a retiree. i'm an avid fan of parks. i visited the cumberland park down on the coast of georgia. it's really on a barrier island and also the chattahoochee natural area here in metro atlanta in which i used to run a lot there and whatnot. my basic question is, is there an effort to capture volunteers for the national park service? if so, how can that be accomplished? >> yes, sir. yes, sir. >> lots of head shaking. >> i am -- i want to commend you on your offer to be of service. yes, the national park service has the benefit of over 200,000 individual volunteers as well as many groups that make substantial contribution of their own skills and talents to
the parks and enriching the visitor experience. if you have a particular park -- you mentioned chatahoochie, call the superintendent or chief ranger or e-mail them or walk into the office and say, i want to volunteer. they will gladly accept your services. it's a question of how best to match your interest and your skill with the wide array of functions for which the park service is carried out in a given park area. >> if you go to the website nps.gov, national park service, you can search for a park by state. you can look at a map, get a list by state. look at those parks that are near you. click on any park that's near you. there will be a contact page there. you send a message in there. i guarantee, you will get a response because we are thirsty for volunteers. >> next up is will in tulsa. you are on our program. welcome. >> caller: thank you very much. i would like to say, happy centennial to the national park service.
i have had the lovely experience of going to the grand canyon. i wasn't able to spend as much time as i would like. my question is, osage county, which is next to tulsa, native american lands, is there any prospect or hope that perhaps some of the prairie in the midwest can be saved for national park designation? i know it's kind of boring, see a bunch of tall grass. the heritage is such that i would be interested. thank you for the question. >> thank you. there is, in fact, a tall grass prairie park. but, obviously, it's a small representation of the vastness of tall grass throughout the midwest. there may be some areas that might warrant study to see
whether or not it could possibly be preserved either by the federal government, the state or by private interests. >> this is not always hearts and roses, though. when a parcel of land -- when the government has its eye on for preservation, you get into state issues and private property issues. how does that all get worked out? >> yes. it's interesting to note that there's two things that the national park service cannot do through its director. it cannot create a national park nor when a park gets created to divest its interest in preserving that park. parks primarily are created through two primary sources, through an act of congress, to pass a bill, sign into law creating the park. or the president can exercise his authority under the antiquities act of 1906. it's an act which has been used extensively by president -- i think president roosevelt, one
of the conservation legacies -- legends have used it 19 times. i believe at the last count, president obama has used it 24. i was a member of clinton administration. president clinton used it, i think, 19 times. it has to go through that process. but interestingly enough, congress has enacted legislation that the park service can expend up to $25,000 for a reconnaissance-type of study to determine whether or not an area should be considered as an addition to the national park system. but only through an act of congress can an official study be authorized to spend "x" number of dollars to do a feasibility, suitability study. >> we have a tweet here from a viewer called ska city. it's a very specific question you may not know the answer to but we'll use it as a jumping
off point for a broader topic. asking, have there been any confirmed mountain lion sightings on the appalachian trail in the past couple of years? is that something either of you would know? >> i could not -- >> let me ask you about the intersection of wildlife in the parks and people coming to see them. how you both keep the public from being in danger at the same time preserving and conserving the species that is part of the mission of the park service as well. >> it's a continuing challenge. the way to really counter, if you will, native animals and people contact or conflict is to really acquaint the american public with what is expected of their conduct as a visitor to the park. parks are not zoos. and they are not tame animals. they are wildlife. in their own habitat. the american public has to be respectful of that. and through this educational
orientation process, there has been a continual reduction in terms of the conflict between wild animals and people who really want to enjoy the wild animals in the respective habitats. >> now that everyone has cameras in the cell phones -- last time i was in yellowstone, i was really amazed at people getting out of their car and getting what looked like awfully close to some of the wildlife that are not there for photo ops. >> that's true. again, we discourage -- i say we. the national park service discourages that. we understand that there is a tendency to get as close as possible to get the right shot and say i saw a bison or elk in their native habitat. it's not encouraged. >> i was about to say. a lot of the examples people think of western parks. even here in the urban areas we have encounters. in my time here as site manager,
we've had owls and foxes and recently we had coyotes confirmed here on the property here just overlooking washington, d.c. in cases we have animals that get sick. we need to educate our visitors that the park service typically does is we allow the natural processes to move through. that's what's best for nature. we try to inform people of that and let them see things. but not rush in to save the day if there's a sick animal or something like that. >> david is watching us in new orleans. you are on, david. welcome. >> caller: hi. my question has to do with what you all refer to arlington house. my question is, number one, when was it built? who built it? i've never been there personally, but from the images on television, it appears to be a monumental greek temple. i mean, where did that come from?
>> thanks. we did tell a bit of that history which clearly you missed. if you could briefly tell us that. >> absolutely. i'm thrilled to take that. the house was built over a period of 1802 to 1818 by george washington park custis. the house was physically built by a sizable number of enslaved african-americans as well as other laborers. it was designed by george hadfield who was an early designer of the u.s. capitol building. it is made to -- in the greek revival style. it's a massive property. the room we are in is 18-foot ceilings. it was really made to look almost like a temple-like structure as a memorial monument to george washington. >> washington, as you said, was a swamp at the time. how did the family survive the summers here? >> yeah. it was pretty hot, but they would sometimes, especially down by the river, sometimes the river was a blessing, but
sometimes it was a curse. there could be cool breezes but also if you went down there, there was a lot of swamps and mosquitoes. it was not always a pleasant place. they didn't have air conditioning back then. up here on this hill, there's a nice breeze sometimes. you open up the doors and windows in the front, the doors and windows in the back, and you did the best you could. >> the family was connected to mt. vernon. george washington custis was the step-grandson of the first president. how long a distance is it between here and mt. vernon? how long would it take to travel there when he lived here? >> we're probably 15 miles or so north of mt. vernon from here. there would have been accomplishable in a carriage ride over a few hours. it wouldn't have been like it was today, but you could probably do that trip in less than half a day or so. the family, when they lived here, frequented alexandria -- now old town alexandria. took carriages there, went to church there and so that's
really probably about an hour carriage ride away from here. >> how long did martha washington survive the president? >> a year. >> she would have had been passed away and he wouldn't have been -- >> correct. by the time he began construction here in 1802, martha washington had passed away. >> julia is in california. i'm not sure where, but, julia, you're on. >> caller: hi. thank you so much to the national park service for all of the wonderful things that they have done for all of us. i am so fortunate, and a lot of times we look past the gifts that we have closest to us. i live in colorado and we're approximately an hour from sequoia national park and kings canyon national park. i was there for my birthday this past weekend. ten years our city has had a shuttle for $15, you can go round trip from our city up there to sequoia national park where general sherman tree is. one of the challenges everyone faced up there was when the park service made the determination that they needed to go back to
the natural state because the giant sequoia trees, the root system was being threatened by all the building and markets and the cabins there. they did an incredible job moving out -- it's a 24 acres of asphalt and buildings. so my question is, first of all, to thank you and happy birthday. we just had our 75th anniversary and 150th sequoia and kings national park. my question for you today is, i wonder what challenges face the national park service in the next 100 years. >> great. thank you for that question. don't spend too much time. we will talk about that in more detail later on. what's the biggest challenge to the parks? >> i think we have alluded to, on several occasions, is that while we could argue that one of the challenges is budget, additional staff, invasive species and other adverse
impacts on the preservation resources, the biggest challenge is to first recognize that we are a nation of over 300 million citizens of all walks of life, all backgrounds. we have the obligation to connect, at least provide opportunities for those citizens to connect with their heritage known as national parks or the national park system. there are many gaps in that connection. and that is a great challenge. it is ultimately the salvation, if you will, the park through individual citizen care. if we don't create that opportunity for them to have that connection with their own parks, they will not be ultimate supporters or stewards of the parks. that is a continuing challenge. >> a tweet from yolanda paris who wants to know once the nps has a property, how do you figure out trails and allowing the trail system so that people can enjoy it and preserve the
environment? >> the park service is given the responsibility to develop parks to meet the needs of the visiting public. and obviously has to be very sensitive to creating trails and other facilities that respect fellow citizens with disabilities. but any facility that is to develop in a park is subject to a planning process in which the american people, through the established procedures, have an opportunity to comment on the merits of that given area. in many instances, it might require an environmental assessment. to some degree, it might require an environmental impact statement to reach a sound decision. and the public, if they're not satisfied with the decision reached through that process, can ultimately go to the courts. there have been many cases in which the american public, through their own right, have taken the park service to court saying that we do not believe it's an appropriate way to
develop the park. but it's a public involvement process. i cannot underscore enough the importance of public involvement in that process. >> we're going to go back to touring this house, arlington house. by the way, we should explain, this actually gave rise to the city that's right here, the name of this place. the arlington came from where? >> we believe it came from england originally. there's a town in england called arlington. there was the earl of arlington. that was the basis for the name of a plantation for the custis family on the eastern shore. that was established many, many years before this arlington when george washington park custis built this house here. he took the name. he borrowed the name from that arlington plantation on the eastern shore, brought it here, called it arlington. that then turned to arlington cemetery, arlington city and everything we call arlington here today.
>> arlington city and county, a thriving area across the river from washington, d.c. we will go back to touring this place. matt will tell us more about the interpretation of robert e. lee's life here. let's listen. >> here we also have the one portrait of robert e. lee in the mansion. it shows him as a young army officer. it's not the version most people expect. most think of robert e. lee as the great confederate general. what arlington house represents is his life before the civil war. his family life, that he married his wife here, that six of their seven children were born here. that this was the place he sacrificed to make the choice he did at the beginning of the civil war to side with virginia. to fight for a larger concept of what he considered to be his home and family. and that was virginia. but it came with a very knowing sacrifice. and while robert e. lee would be
in the minds of many during that war and the years to follow, somewhat of a villain in history, labeled a traitor to his country by the u.s. government and still a controversial figure, many during his lifetime, including many officers and soldiers who fought for the union, respected lee in large part because of that sacrifice he was willing to make. and, in fact, it was lewis crampton, a congressman from saginaw, michigan, whose father served and fought against his army here in virginia, who first proposed the legislation that would dedicate this house as a memorial to robert e. lee. such was the respect given to him even by many of his enemies. as we come into here, this is the morning room. this is one of the oldest rooms
in the house. also one of the most significant. it was built in 1804. and it was in 1811 that robert e. lee and his family first visited arlington. he was 4. mary custis, his future wife, was just 2 1/2. so we like to think that this might have been the room when they first met, as children, as young children. there is a story and family tradition that suggests they were childhood sweethearts growing up. that as teenagers, they became romantic. but he suffered a number of tragedies in his early life. his father died when he was quite young. his mother died right after he graduated from west point. he didn't inherit wealth, he didn't inherit property. and so he had, in many ways, to take life very seriously from a young age and devote himself to
a career in the army. and so he went to west point, graduated second in his class. but following that, he turned his attention once again to miss mary custis at arlington and courted her and married her and became a part of this family. now this room then, in many ways, perhaps is the best room that symbolizes how he was connected to this place. almost his entire life. arlington meant something important to robert e. lee. almost all of it revolved around the relationship he had with his wife mary. now, mary and her father used this room in different ways, but especially as a painting studio. they were both passionate artists. she did two of the paintings that you see next to the window over here to the left. but here is also where you see some of george washington park custis' important revolutionary war scenes. all of these paintings done to represent washington as the
great hero of the revolution, the indispensable man. you see him on his white horse at the front of the army. literally within just a few feet of the lines of the british or germans, in this case, at the battle of trenton. these paintings glorified washington. and that was the purpose of custis' life. but it wasn't just to glorify washington. it was also to promote washington and his beliefs, his ideals and his values. when this country was first created in the years following the american revolution, it was deeply divided. between the followers of thomas jefferson who believed in a limited national government, states' rights, the right to leave the union, the right of nullification, the right of armed rebellion against the government and the followers of washington who believed the opposite of those things. washington, a true nationalist,
who believed this was a perpetual union. when custis started building this house in 1802, the man who was president of the united states, thomas jefferson. so some believe custis built this house on this prominent hill in this greek revival fashion out front almost as a way of thumbing his nose at jefferson across the river. that may be something of an exaggeration, but he definitely meant this place to make a political statement. he declared this house a federalist house. this was to represent all the beliefs and ideals of george washington. and that included, once again, the idea that this nation would exist forever. and that no state had a right to leave it. so how ironic is it that that man's daughter would marry robert e. lee who became the great confederate general and perhaps the man who came closest
than any other man in history to destroying the nation that was created in the american revolution? and it was in the room just through that doorway that robert e. lee made that choice. he made that decision to side with virginia, to leave the union. he was a u.s. army officer, 32 years. prior to his commission he spent four years at west point. he spent his entire adult life in the service of the united states army. he loved his country. and he also believed in preserving the union. but when virginia left the union, he could not fight a war against home and family. that's how he stated it in letter after letter after letter. he had great conflict in his heart and soul over making this decision. but in the end, that was the only choice he felt he could make. but one of the aspects of that decision that made it so
consequential was that lee was first offered command of federal troops. president lincoln wanted him to command what would become the union army. the army that would cross the river, suppress rebellion in virginia and save the union. and lee turned it down. that decision would be in many ways a great pivotal moment in american history. many historians believe if lee had chosen to accept president lincoln's offer, the war would have been much shorter. certainly, hundreds of thousands of lives would have been spared. at the same time, the great political change and cultural change, social change that occurred in this country because of that war and including the abolition of slavery might not
have happened or might have happened very differently. we will never know. it's one of those unanswerable questions. but it's very clear that the decision robert e. lee made in that room had a profound influence on the course of american history. he did not know that. he had no way of predicting that, of course. but one thing he did know that was very clear, because that view out front, he knew the union army had to take over arlington to defend washington. arlington may have been one of the most important properties in the entire country because whichever army controlled it, the heights here at arlington, controlled the fate of the nation's capital. it had to be held at all costs by the united states army. lee knew that. and so he expected when he left here two days after resigning that his family was likely to lose their home. his wife had hopes that they would be able to return here once the war was over. but by the end of that first summer, when most americans
became more and more aware of the fact that this war was not going to be short, it was going to be terrible. it was going to be long. it was going to be bloody. the lees became more and more resigned to the fact that they would never live in their home again. and they never did. >> you are hearing the story of the robert e. lee family who were the occupants of this house. lost it during the civil war. on this centennial of the national park service, thanks for being with us on american history tv. our special guests for this two-hour live program from arlington house overlooking washington, d.c., are bob stanton, former director of the national park service. spent his life in conservation of american history. even though he is retired, you are still involved in all this. >> i'm working on it. >> and brandon bies, with the national park service and has the big task of restoring this place.
if someone walked in now, it looks a little ragged around the edges. one day david rubenstein, co-founder of the carlisle group, is very wealthy man who has become quite a philanthropist in washington, walked in here and what did he do? >> he walked in here and saw the same thing. fortunately for us, he contacted the director of the national park service and said, this is a really significant historic home for america, the stories that it tells. how can i help? ultimately, he wanted to make this place perfect and asked us what did we need. so we were incredibly fortunate that we were able to really tailor our specific needs for all kinds of things for the museum objects and for telling the story and the physical fix not just to the building but to the grounds and gardens. we were able to present that and he very generously donated $12.35 million to make that happen. >> over $12 million.
which time frame? how long do you have to do this? >> so we're hoping to get started with work in early of next year. most likely in the spring timeframe is when we're going to get started with the work. we have been working for the last year or so going through the planning process. i know that never sounds like fun, but in a very sensitive historic place like this, you can't just run in right away and start with the construction. you have to go through reviews, consult with historians, go through various commissions and approval processes. so we're in the midst, we're finalizing that right now. we're hopeful in may of next year is when we're going to get started with the real bricks and mortar construction. that's going to take about a year. then after that is done, we will start to reopen the site. but there's more work to be done once the bricks and mortar work is done. we have to put in new exhibits and new outdoor signage and things like that. when this is all said and done in another year or so, it is going to completely transform this place. >> you talked about one of the major tasks is going to be better interpreting the lives of the enslaved people who were very much a part of this
history. what about the lee family itself? what point in time will you choose to tell their story? >> that's a great question. our enabling legislation actually directs that. that's one of those things when congress establishes national parks. when they established arlington house, they said it should be restored and interpreted the period just before or on the eve of the civil war. so this house will look like the paint colors, the rooms, the objects in the rooms, will -- it will be that period really on the eve of lee's resignation. that will be the period the house will look like. but we have that difficult task of telling the story of what this place was like and people who lived here, in some cases, 60 years before that. >> we have moved a lot of it. thank you for letting us do that. there's a lot of furniture in the house. one of the neat things when you read about the history of this place is that a lot of the people who took objects from the house returned them to the national park service when you began to try to tell the story.
can you talk about that? >> sure. absolutely. many objects disappeared over time. keep in mind, so many of the objects in this house had their ties to mt. vernon. that's where the washington treasury, as we call it, the bed washington died on. very significant pieces. china from mt. vernon. during the civil war, this area was occupied for the entire war essentially by union soldiers. for souvenirs, they took things. we have many instances in the years after the war and more recently where people found in their family's collections objects that were taken from arlington house or objects that maybe they had had -- we have examples of objects held by the families of the enslaved african-americans who were here who have -- we have been able to bring back to this place. that's one of the things we're really excited about during this restoration project is having the funds to locate and potentially purchase some of these original objects and bring them back to this house. >> our phone lines are open.
we will be here for half an hour more. we would like to hear questions or comments about the national park system, what your concerns are about how it does its job of interpreting our american story. or if you want to tell us a great story about a park you visited, we will listen. you can tweet us at cspanhistory. there's a conversation going on facebook about your favorite park and why and/or what the park service might do to better engage with the american public. to that end, i want to read this facebook posting. the young people of today want to touch, feel and interact with history. seeing doesn't satisfy their needs. do more interactive programs. >> we're going to do that. one of the things we're planning -- we can accomplish that in a few ways. we're going to be putting in some -- what we call tactile exhibits. these are places where people can touch either reproduction items or can see a sign and maybe feel a model of what the plantation looked like. we're even talking about putting a map on the ground here that
will be a colorized map outside in the rear yard of what this plantation looked like. there will be opportunities for people to interact and to also be able to leave a little bit of them here. again, we want to facilitate that dialogue. we want people to come here and have the opportunity to maybe leave a little video of themselves or a note or something that talks about what this site means for them. another way that we're going to facilitate that is through online exhibits, the ability to see parts of arlington house that maybe you can't physically get to, but you can use an ipad to zoom in on an object in a room. because, no, we can't have people touching some of these objects. but we can use ipads for people to hold onto and zoom in close to see details. >> beyond the work done here, dee on facebook says, i would love virtual reality recordings that give a flavor of the attractions allowing millions of us that will never be able to
visit them for various reasons. is the park service getting involved in allowing people to experience it virtually rather than going to parks? >> yes. but perhaps not to the scale that we all are seeking. and to use today's technology, particularly connecting with new audiences, particularly with our youth. we have the responsibility to maximize the use of technology. one would not suggest, however, that we will not continue to encourage, to the extent possible, all people visiting their national park nearby or at a distance, but to compensate for that virtual reality, the use of modern technology is a measure towards that end. >> i want to talk to you about private philanthropy. obviously the rubenstein. for this particular facility, $12 million is quite spectacular. over the course of the history of the national parks, what has
been the role of -- not just in this age but in earlier ages -- of private citizens and helping the mission of the national park service? >> philanthropy has been integral to the acquisition, development and operation of national parks. one would think initially about the rockefeller family making substantial donations of lands in grand teton national park, gray smokeys and another park where i had the opportunity to work, virgin islands national park, a substantial contribution of land there. but in addition to that, here in the nation's capital, the environment. i think of two major example. the frederick douglass home. located on a 14-acre estate was entirely donated by an organization founded by
douglass' second wife. think about wolf trap farm park for the performing arts. the land and construction costs for lane center was donated in full. so there are many classic examples in which many of the parks that we enjoy today came to us from private individuals or from organizations that had a civic approach to conservation and preservation. >> do you sometimes get checks from people who don't have a lot of means? small donations from people as well? >> no question about that. i don't know what the dollar level is, but the federal government and the park service, in particular, is authorized to accept donations unilaterally. also, congress in 1967 established the national park foundation which is the philanthropic arm of the national park service. it has raised and continues to
raise substantial sums of dollars. i think the target during the centennial year is for the foundation to raise from the private sector from individuals and various organizations i believe in the neighborhood of $350 million that will be used by the national park service for preservation, interpretation, education. again, donations, major philanthropic gifts have been integral to the park system. i think that will continue. >> a tweet -- how do you balance access and protection? when you're thinking about -- we said this is the most visited of the historic houses. when you think about redoing it and the numbers of people in this place, how do you balance those? >> it's really tough. on one hand, we want people to see these places. you might have the idea, oh, 650,000 people a year. we can do a million. we know we have well over a million people walking around
the grounds here. at the same time, this is a 200-year-old house. you really have to balance that. we're looking at ways to try to bring people into certain parts of the house that can handle more foot traffic. but then do special guided tours to certain areas or having virtual tours available for certain areas because we really have an issue -- we call it carrying capacity. that stands in historic homes but also for trails and places like that where it's an issue across the park service. we don't want our parks to be loved to death. but we want people to be able to come and enjoy them and not -- people need to be able to see the treasurers. >> how frequently do you have timed visitations? that's another way of controlling crowd access. >> that's correct. i think that's in place at the washington monument now. you are preticketed for the washington monument. that was the case in terms of visitation to the white house. there are a number of parks that have a structured process of how
to effectively and efficiently move people through that park. the interesting point i would like to make about visitation and about impact is that there are many parks not widely known, but yet they are a significant aspect of our heritage. therefore, it's incumbent upon the park service to make information available on the park and to encourage people to visit lesser known parks. also, if you have a park such as yellowstone -- and everybody going to yellowstone wants to go to old faithful. notwithstanding yellowstone is 2.2 million acres and roughly 90% of that don't see many people. you try to encourage people, well, maybe not old faithful this year. why not this part of the park? it's an educational and encouragement process. >> next is a call from leslie in california. >> caller: hi. i have a memory story for you.
was the arlington house known as the lee mansion? i believe in may of 1950, i was 9 years old, and my family and i came from buffalo, new york, and saw washington and went to the lee mansion. and i believe -- i think i saw it as i'm sitting here watching the program -- there was a doll in a little girl's bedroom upstairs in the cradle. >> wow. what a good memory you have. my goodness. why did -- because you were young that doll resonated with you? >> caller: i love dolls. my dad said i had a memory like an elephant. at almost 75, i still do. it was a wonderful memory. >> that's a terrific memory from long ago. >> those are pretty accurate. she's referring to the girl's dressing room upstairs. >> the custis lee mansion it was known as until it was changed after your visit to arlington house, the robert e. lee
memorial. >> next up is jean in wyoming. >> caller: hello. >> please go ahead. >> caller: hello? >> we're listening. what's your question? >> caller: i have a couple of questions. the one question is, why do you not -- why do you not advertise more often about your events and stuff coming along? >> okay. you have another question? >> caller: yes. the other question is, i am actually a volunteer from ft. laramie. i was there -- >> you know what? we're getting feedback on your call.
we will take your first one. why doesn't the park service advertise more frequently? >> hopefully, we're doing a better job of that. it's difficult for us to take out time on media to be able to put things out there. we do our best. we rely a lot -- not exclusively, but a lot on social media, trying to get people to -- a lot of sites have facebook pages or twitter accounts to try to get the word out there. we work with our local media. we certainly have, i would say, around the centennial, done a huge push both internally but through the park service to get the word out there. if you have access to the internet, to facebook, sites like that, you can learn more about the park events there. if you go most -- almost all websites for national park services, they have news and events. you can click on a calendar and find out what's going on almost every weekend in that park.
>> we would be remiss if we were not to commend c-span for its coverage of the national parks and the park service. smithsonian channel. an example that does the same, national geographic. it's a matter of providing content to the various media organizations and they, in turn, generally respond very favorably. >> on that note, barbara said, special affordable events would be a plus at the historic lodges. some people are not as physically active for all the outdoor adventures at the park. that's her idea how to make things better. have special affordable events at the lodges because i can't get out and move around inside the park. >> when you say the lodges, the lodges within national parks? >> yes. >> i think there's a concern that we need to increase the needs of those who may have some limitations. i think you would find that if
you stay at the lodge in the valley of yosemite or in glacier national park, often rangers would visit the those facilities and give talks if you will. there may be a campfire program in close proximity. or in walking distance of a lodge so people can be readily moved to those areas. in many instances, the lodges that, by and large, are operated by concessioners under a contract with the national park service can provide transportation for the guests to an organized park program. but we realize that more has to be done to assure that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy the activities. >> on a related note, accessibility for people with disabilities. how do you -- that's much -- it's required by law. but it's also something we are all much more aware of as making sites more accessible. what are you doing here on that?
>> that's one of the real tough things. that's one of the reasons we have to be so delicate in that planning process we go through and work with all the historic preservation groups out there because we have to find a universally accessible way to get people in and out of the mansion and to have the same experience. so, as part of this project, we're trying our best to put some ramping in that will -- there's a number of steps to get up into the mansion. we're trying to do that in a sensitive way. but we need to be able to do it to get people here. also around the site, people need to be able to move around in wheelchairs and strollers and things. we will put in an accessible path so if someone is in a wheelchair, they will get to every place on the site, whether it's the slave quarters, the mansion, the museum building, pass through the gardens. those will be paths that are made to look like packed dirt. they have nice technology where we can do that. but it's actually an accessible hard surface that wheelchairs can go over. >> what do you do for people
with other disabilities. >> i mentioned about the tactile exhibits. that's for people who perhaps are visually impaired. we will have a model of arlington house in bronze where they can feel the wings of the house, the chimney, those objects. we will have programs obviously in braille. we have programs for people who maybe can't go upstairs. they can sit here in the house and view a virtual tour. those types of objects. we will be giving tours and have pamphlets in many, many different foreign languages. >> is this happening across all the parks? >> pardon me? >> is this interpretation happening across all the parks? >> yes. if not, it should be. you would find that there is that level of sensitivity on the part of the park staff to reach out and to include individuals that may have some limitations. and many of the partners that operate within parks, a corporate association or a concessioner, they have that sense of obligation to provide
those services to all visitors. >> 100th anniversary of the national park service. we are talking about that while we are based here live at arlington house overlooking washington. if you ever get to d.c., come up here. it's going to be closed how long? >> it will be -- the grounds will be closed for about a year, perhaps certainly more than that. we invite people to come up. we have time left before we close the site. certainly, when we reopen, come and visit us. it's a fantastic place. >> i can promise you, it is the most spectacular view of washington, d.c., that you can find anywhere around here. please do put it on your list if you get here. next is pam in michigan. hi. you are on. >> caller: hi. i would just like to know that -- if it's true or not. i read mrs. lee did not come back in person to pay the taxes because her and mr. robert e. lee thought that she would have been arrested at that time.
and my other question is, is the house haunted? thank you very much for taking my call. >> thank you very much. is the house haunted? >> is the house haunted? >> it's rather dark in here. >> ambience and whatnot. i can tell you, i personally have not had an experience here. but we do have staff who have relayed stories of things like footsteps upstairs when they turn out to be the only one in the house. there are stories, not for me to say whether or not it's haunted. there's a number of folks who have had interesting experiences. >> you have an 1803 house with creaky floors. >> it creeks a lot. >> all by itself. she asked -- >> yeah. we discussed that earlier. that absolutely is true. when they -- that law was passed in 1862, the taxes were due. they had to be paid by the owner of the house who at that time was mary lee. she was not able to pay the
taxes for fear of being captured. she tried to send a cousin here to pay the taxes, but they refused them because they had to be paid in person. >> john white asked about twitter, dayton aviation park is spread over many individual locations in our urban area. is that multisite park unique in the park service? are there other multisite parks? >> there are a number of multisite parks. many of the civil war sites have different sites that depict what may have occurred in an individual battle. most parks are contiguous within a given boundary. but dayton park is not an exception to that. >> certainly, in urban areas, that's very common. i think of places like golden gate and even here, many of the parks here in washington, d.c., are -- there's pieces of the
park nearly all over the place. >> that is correct. >> in a place like this, what percentage of your visitors are foreign? >> that's a great question. i don't have the exact statistic. i would say probably approaching almost a quarter of the visitors. most of our visitors are typical visitors who are here for arlington national cemetery. many don't expect to come here. they happen upon it. probably a little less than a quarter. certainly, a sizable number. >> phillip is watching us in wisconsin as we talk about the park service on its anniversary. what's your question? >> caller: yes. i live in northern wisconsin. i do a lot of camping up here. it seems like they are closing campsites up here. the campsites are deteriorating, like the picnic benches, there are big chunks of wood missing out of them. what are you going to do about
this? >> deteriorating campsites. what are you going to do about it? >> i don't know the particular circumstances of the given park. obviously, the superintendent of that given park would not be pleased that a facility is deteriorating. there could be a question of budget. could be a question of priorities. but that is not the acceptable standard for any park. but admittedly, there are some deteriorating facilities throughout the national park system. >> yes. certainly, verify it's a national -- a lot of folks assume the national park service runs all campgrounds. so it could be -- it may or may not be park service. but if it is a national park please get in touch with the park's superintendent, go to the contact page and let them know. >> next up is marilyn who is in south carolina. marilyn, what's on your mind tonight? >> caller: yes. incidentally, seven years ago today, edwood kennedy passed away.
i have a question about president kennedy. when he was buried there in 1963, how did that influence the demand for burial there? >> that's a great question. incidentally, i was here when senator ted kennedy passed away. we overlooked that from here on the hillside as he was buried alongside his brothers. >> let me in terms of jurisdiction, arlington memorial service is not part of the national park service. >> right. it's the army that runs the cemetery. the national park service is -- we are completely surrounded by the cemetery. the caller was correct, the demand for burials here in the cemetery astronomically increased after president kennedy was buried here in the point that after that time is when the cemetery had to start putting some restrictions or limitations on the qualifications for people to
have for in-ground burials because it had a huge impact on the cemetery. and on the visitation of the cemetery and as well at arlington house. >> we have 12 more minutes left in our two-hour special on the 100th anniversary of the national park service. all day long on c-span3 we have been showing you different park service sites from all around the country. we hope you enjoyed it. all of that is on our video library and you can search and find locations that perhaps you have always been interested in visiting and learn more about that. we have heard references to your career as we have been talking here. how did you get into this? >> i'm a product, if you will, of the leadership of president kennedy, vice president johnson and my hero as a secretary of the interior, the late stewart lee udahl. secretary udahl coming into the office in the first few months of the kennedy administration
looked at the workforce of the department of interior from hawaii to alaska, alaska to maine to the virgin islands and did not see the face of america. that's my term in terms of not having the diversity in the staff. so he made a decision to recruit in places where the foreign interior had not recruited substantially at historically black colleges and universities. and i was fortunate to be recommended by the president of the college for this opportunity to work as a seasonal ranger. it was in 1962. i had the great fortune of working as a seasonal ranger in grand teton, the summer of '62 and '63 and became permanent in the park service in '66 and stepped down as the 15th director on january 19, 2001, concluding 35 years with the national park service. a rewarding career that exceeded all expectations. >> grand tetons, one of the most
gorgeous places in the world, absolutely beautiful there. >> since i don't have responsible for all the parks, yes, you are right. >> all of you park service people are always so diplomatic when you ask for your favorite park. did you get the bug immediately when you were working there as a college student? this is what i want to do? >> no, i grew up in a difference america. i grew up under separate but equal. there was not an encouragement for african-americans to go into nontraditional career opportunities. state and local parks were closed to me. restaurants and theaters were closed to me. again, that was the courageous leadership of stewart udall because many facilities surrounding parks were not open to me. but another courageous secretary
during the roosevelt administration, franklin roosevelt, issued a proclamation in 1945 saying that all facilities within national parks would be available to all who would come. notwithstanding in neighboring communities you may not beage to go to a hotel or restaurant but it was followed by the leadership of stewart lee udall. >> we want to hear your story but we have to take a couple of calls first. which are the most significant national park service sites that tell the modern civil rights story? >> well, the martin luther king national historic site that the story is told in atlanta, georgia. selma to montgomery. talking about the voting rights that led to president lyndon johnson signing that law, the voting rights law in 1965. but one would have to go back
earlier and i think about port chicago and california in which there was a major destruction of ships through bombs that exploded as they were being loaded and killed roughly 300 african-americans who were receiving disparate treatment in terms of training and work, what have you. that triggered president truman ultimately to issue a presidential executive order, or an executive order saying that we would no longer have a segrigated military force. and even go beyond that in terms of major protests by labor to argue for equal protection under the law that's guaranteed by the 14th amendment. but what would -- one would argue that the seeking of full rights is a continuum in that
every generation makes a little bit more progress towards that which we could claim in our constitution towards a more perfect union. but i grew up in the so-called modern civil rights movement so the student protests, of which i was a part of in the '50s and '60s, i can remember. but i also remember the supreme court decision in 1954 because all of my public schools were segregated schools in which they declared in the field of public education, that doctrine of separate but equal has no place. i've seen that in my time but there's more to be done. >> we have about seven minutes left on this centennial national park service. next up is a phone call from robert in waterville, new york. >> caller: hello. former director stanton. this question is probably for you. there's holdings within the
national parks, particularly yosemite, some of the colorado parks. what's the national park service doing about purchasing the inholdings that commercial developers are >> what's the status of that whole system? >> an excellent question. the land and water conservation fund provides revenues for acquisition not only as you well know by the federal government but also by state government and land and water conservation funds are available to travel governments and government to government relationship. there are many inholders throughout the experience. the dollars available are not
adequate progress is being made and there's some individuals that donated free of charge to include those areas and it's a critical set of circumstances because some of the private properties are subject to development that we would perhaps judge and not be incompatible with other preservation objectives of a given park so you're right on target of raising it as a major challenge. >> well, on facebook, he asked is there a satisfactory level of cooperation between the national park service and the various state parks and the many county and local parks.
the state parks have a national association of state park directors and there's frequent meetings between members of the association and their counter parts in the national park service and similarly with local and municipal parts and outstanding programs and the national association. i might add that the park service has a specific function that allows park service employees to provide technical assistance within the resource they have available to state and to local park and resource preservation. and it's a shared experience between the organization irrespective of the government level to cooperate effective and
efficient stewardship. >> how did you get into this line of work? >> i started my park service career and i started with an interest in american history and military history and also in archaeology. i began as archaeologist with the national park service and was very fortunate to do work at a number of civil war battlefields and spent a number of years working in other places and i was able to then get a permanent position as we call a cultural resource specialist doing historic preservation work here in in the washington d.c. area. and a nice chance to work at great falls park just here north of town and then served four years as the manager here at arlington house and we'll see where you go from there. >> where did you go to school? >> i went to my undergraduate at the university of delaware and got degrees in american history
and anthropology and got my masters in applied anthropology for the university of maryland. >> we talked about a lot of the challenges for the next 100 years throughout our program and one is young people who are digitally oriented and others always going to be funding and one of the ones always site cited the climate change issue and it's impact on the parks. how serious is that for the sites that you're trying to preserve and what is the park service doing to remedy it. >> i've been away from the park service for 16 years but i'm not fully abreast of what is being done in terms of adapting to climate change and measure that the individual parks or the leadership with the park service maybe undertaken and some of the news accounts of deterioration
and some have speculated and may be at glacier international park in montana in terms of the melting. there's a large number of seashore parks that are beginning to recognize a change in the level of the sea in terms of beach erosion and maybe the impact on cultural resources they may be in proximity to the shoreline. i do know that there's a measure of measures being taken out only by the national park service but by fish and wildlife service and the u. s. forest resource bureau of land management and i would expect some comparable measure to be taken at the state level but the scientist continue to advise us that things are changing and it's a question how can we adapt to those changes? plus how can we reduce our
impact on carbon emissions as the -- as it's being rolled out. >> we're going to take a final phone call from stephanie all the way in hawaii. you're our last caller tonight. what's on your mind. >> hi, thank you for taking my call and happy birthday to the park service. >> thank you very much. >> i'm really proud to be an american for that reason. there is a national monument and has a long hawaiian name. i'm afraid i can't pronounce it. they are talking about expanding the area. i wondered if anybody knew where that stood and thank you for taking my call. >> i've been out of the loop as it were but obviously as mentioned earlier all parks have
a website and they're more than welcome an inquiry for you in terms of acquisition into what the answer might be and i'm positive that you'll get a response in a timely fashion. >> this special program has been introduced by american history tv. part of the cspan family and delighted to introduce you into what we do with american history tv. and and lectures in history and tours of battlefields and you'll find american history tv and find us also on the web. as we closed off here tonight really want to thank your colleagues for the hospitality and allowing us to bring the hospitality in and what's the
closing thought? a we may be here for a few more hours but the parks are are special places. not only to enjoy in terms of play but where we can learn. we develop a greater are the for ourselves, our neighbors and our friends and respect for the others in a fragile place and so parks are contributing to us becoming better people and more united nation. >> i'm not nearly as eloquent but i will say something we talk about time and time again is relevance. we need to be relevant and make that connection to people to come and visit so please come visit your national parks and
tell us how we can be relevant to you. if there's stories you think we're not telling, tell us about it and get involved. volunteer and make the parks relevant. and that will guarentee a round for another 100 years. >> final thought. >> i want to salute you and the cspan and staff and salute you in the words of our first director and a keen appreciation of the privilege of living here in the united states who has toured the national parks. >> well, thanks to both of you for giving us your time tomorrow night and thank you and the audience for watching for your questions and as i mentioned the conversation continues on book. if you like to talk to others